Faac Deadlock. It is time to separate men from the boys. It is time to know the state governments that are good managers of economic resources, state governments that are capable of paying their bills without waiting on the federal government.
Every month, our state governors or their representatives, travel to Abuja, the nation’s capital, cap in hand, to ask for crumbs that fall from the master’s table. They call it revenue allocation from the Federation Accounts and Allocation Committee (FAAC).
Any time the states fail to receive what they believe is their due, they will lie comatose, unable to do anything. Every activity of government will be paralysed because there will be no money in the kitty to render any service.
Some two weeks ago, it was reported that the FAAC meeting in Abuja was deadlocked because of certain disagreements regarding the actual amount of money to be remitted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the nation’s revenue spinning agency, for sharing by the three levels of Nigerian government – the federal, state and local governments.
As such, civil servants at these three levels of government were told not to expect payment of their June 2018 salaries any time early, because the expected revenue for distribution from the Federation Account was not forthcoming.
It was a surprise when it was reported that the Enugu State Government had already paid the June 2018 salaries to its civil servants by the 23rd of that month, without waiting to receive its share of revenue from the Federal Government.
Many people then began to wonder and to ask how did Enugu State Government manage to do this? This is because Enugu State is not an oil producing state. It is among states that are at the lowest wrung of the ladder in revenue allocation from the Federation Account. The state also does not have many viable commercial and industrial establishments that would have been yielding huge revenues to it.
The simple answer is that Enugu State government was able to pay its workers as a result of prudent financial management as well as its commitment to the welfare of its workforce. In other words, if the authorities of the state government had not been very prudent in managing the little resources at their disposal, and if they had not had the interest of their workers at heart, they would not have succeeded in paying their workers the June 2018 salaries.
The state government would have been among the many other states in the country now blaming their failure to pay their workers on the Federation Accounts and Allocation Committee (FAAC), and by extension, the Federal Government, for not releasing their statutory allocation from the federal revenue account.
We must therefore commend and congratulate Enugu State Government, and in particular, the State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for this great feat.
But then, we need to question a federal arrangement where its component units are always incapacitated each time there is a problem at the centre. In a true federalism, state governments are semi-autonomous political units, having their distinct identities. They do not always depend on the government at the centre for everything.
State governments are not like a baby would depend on her mother sulking milk from her breast such that any time the mother decides to remove the baby’s mouth from the breast, she will begin to cry. Every state government should be able to stand on its own, having its own sources of revenue, independent of the government at the centre.
But here in Nigeria, our federalism is a ruse. The federal government is omnipotent, very powerful, and controls all resources. The federating units are mere appendages of the central government. They have no independent existence. They rely on the federal government for everything they do. The federal government collects virtually all revenues accruing to the country and later begins to dish out as handouts to the states. This is abnormal.
That’s why we are in full support of those currently calling for the restructuring of the country. Nigeria should not continue to be governed as a unitary state where the centre is very powerful and controls most of the nation’s resources, while the state governments, are left with nothing, but owill always kowtow before the almighty federal government in order to have their own existence. It does not make for healthy existence, and even kills the competitive spirit.